TakeAway: Driving product usage is not as simple as it once was for food companies.
Consumers now look for pizzazz in food products’ “back of the box” suggestions, yet consumers do not want to have to go to the grocery store to buy new/uncommon ingredients.
Consumers do not want to be treated as cooking novices, yet more than 11 ingredients is way too complex.
It’s a tricky position for food companies.
As a result, the process to pick just the right recipe for the precious 2 inches of real estate on the product label is exhaustive and all inclusive.
And, this process has a lot riding on it because if the recipe does not spur use, these products will sit, forgotten in the back of the pantry.
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Excerpted from WSJ, “For Old Labels, a Little Zest,” By Miriam Gottfried, March 18, 2010
Recipe developers at Campbell Soup spent months testing and tasting before reaching a decision: “Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes” was safe enough to print on the back of a can of cream-of-mushroom soup.
Some of the most beloved American dishes started as back-of-the-package recipes, designed in corporate test kitchens to sell more cans of soup, bags of noodles and boxes of cake mix …
Now America’s increasingly sophisticated palate, influenced by TV cooking shows, celebrity chefs and gourmet ingredients, presents a problem. Many food companies have had trouble increasing revenue …
Food companies need to figure out how to update their recipes to entice today’s more ambitious cooks to use products that might otherwise sit on the shelf for months. The recipes must make cooks feel like they’re doing more than just adding eggs to a mix, but not use so many ingredients to require a special trip to the store. If they get too trendy, they risk alienating their core consumers …
Campbell’s began the quest for new label recipes last February …
The group was unsure about “Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes”—boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a sauce of cream-of-mushroom-soup, basil, shallots, red-wine vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes and served atop egg noodles. Chicken is the most popular search term on CampbellsKitchen.com, but the group was divided on sun-dried tomatoes.
“Label recipes are weeknight meals,” says Campbell’s Kitchen group manager. “Most involve rice or pasta. The real estate is small, so there are few ingredients and few steps.”
In May, recipes were sent to consumers to try at home, asking if they liked the taste, found the ingredients affordable, and whether they would make the dishes again.
Testers liked a fajita recipe but didn’t think cheddar cheese soup was a necessary ingredient. Another recipe for beef short ribs … called for braising liquid made with French-onion soup and beer … “It looked like beer was the new wine, and it might be the right time for this recipe.” But testers said they had to make a special trip to buy beer. Short ribs were unfamiliar and some consumers thought they were too expensive …
In the end, “Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes” stood out because the gourmet twist was in the title and there were more ingredients—11 instead of the four to seven used in a typical recipe …
The recipe will appear on cream-of-mushroom soup cans starting in August. Sales of cream-of-mushroom soup … usually take off in September as cold weather approaches, and the company hopes to see growth in the business from the recipe promotion …
Edit by TJS
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